ONLY 14 per cent of Australians die at home, despite seven in 10 wishing to do so
, according to a report which has renewed calls for changes in policies and attitudes to enable people to see out their days with greater dignity.
The Grattan Institute’s Dying Well report found about half of Australians die in hospitals, and a third die in residential care.
The results place Australia at odds with other prosperous Western nations, with Australians dying at home at half the rate of their counterparts in countries including the US, New Zealand, Ireland and France.
Report co-author Hal Swerissen said the report highlighted the need for medical and community attitudes to change.
He said contrary to common assumptions, formal, home-based end-of-life care was often cheaper than institutional care.
“More than at any time in history, most people die when they are old, and are more likely than past generations to know when in the near future they are going to die,” Professor Swerissen said.
“That gives us a great opportunity to help people plan to die well — but we’re not taking it.”
The report recommended greater communication between those approaching the end of their life and family, friends and health professionals. It found the lack of such communication leads to people feeling disconnected and confused about the range of services available.
The authors also called for the widespread adoption of *advance care plans to ensure people’s end-of-life desires are met, as well as greater investment in community-based care to shift the focus from cures and *institutional care to supporting people’s wishes to die at home.